11

Out of the three, which is the best option and with which grammatical rule:

  1. I have four dozens of mango.
  2. I have four dozen of mangoes.
  3. I have four dozens of mangoes.
  • please read the answer again, I have made some changes, I guess. – Usernew Oct 20 '15 at 17:22
  • 15
    Uh, none of the above: you either have "dozens of mangoes" (no number), or "four dozen mangoes" (no "of"). None of the versions with both a number and an "of" sound natural. – Martha Oct 20 '15 at 23:07
5

Hundred, thousand, pair, dozen, and couple take the same form both in the singular and in the plural only when they are used after numerals or after several or a few.

Three hundred (not hundreds), two pair, three couple, five dozen etc.

Example:

  • He gave me a sum of three hundred rupees.
  • He bought two pair of shoes.
  • There are five dozen mangoes in the basket.

NOTE: In modern English, "pairs" and "couples" are more usual.

Example:

  • He bought two pairs of shoes.
  • Five couples were present at the meeting.

When the nouns of numbers are followed immediately by "of," their plural forms are used.

Example:

  • Hundreds of people.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people.

Based on that, the correct answer is #2:

  • I have four dozen mangoes. or I have four dozen of mangoes.
  • I have two pair of dresses.

But, we say:

  • I have dozens of mangoes.
  • I have a number of pairs of dresses.

EDIT

Since many are concluding that using "of" is not correct, It is uncommon, but it is not wrong either, maybe to American/British, but It is very common to use "of" after "dozen" in India. Since the OP is Indian, I have provided a source from an Indian book.

enter image description here

But as you can see here, the results are very contrasting to the previous one:

enter image description here

Here is something that may help you: English Grammar without Tears

  • 2
    Based on your answer it should be dozens of mangoes. Since dozen is being followed by of. – Seema Bhukar Oct 20 '15 at 17:25
  • 22
    A lot of this sounds weird or simply wrong to my American ear. If I had 48 mangoes, I'd say 4 dozen mangoes, no of. Also, I'd always treat a pair as an entity, and say two pairs of shoes, never two pair. Skimming through the book you linked to, a lot of the examples aren't quite normal in American English. – Karen Oct 20 '15 at 19:06
  • 6
    As a UK native speaker, I agree with Karen. A British person would say four dozen mangos. – Joseph Rogers Oct 20 '15 at 19:35
  • 4
    The only reasonable usage of "four dozens of X" in British English would be if the items X were packaged in groups of 12, and this is a shorthand for "four packages, each containing one dozen Xs". That was certainly used in old business accounts, etc, e.g. books.google.co.uk/…. – alephzero Oct 21 '15 at 0:22
  • 2
    @Karen The OP is Indian. This might be weird to American or British ear, but I have seen and heard "[X] dozen of [Y]" which I guess very acceptable to Indians. Another link, Point 8-A,B – Usernew Oct 21 '15 at 6:35
17

Assuming that what you have is 48 mangoes; you have four dozen mangoes.

The reason for this is that "four dozen" is a number. You wouldn't say "I have four of mango", "fours of mangoes" etc.

Use of dozen is, of course, an English oddity, but it does compare to the other units OK: So "I have four hundred mangoes" is the same construction.

15

The rule is simple. It depends on whether you're using `dozen' as an adjective or as a noun. Nouns can be singular or plural; adjectives are unit-less (as the noun that the adjective is qualifying carries the numerical dimension). So, the following are correct:

Dozen as a Noun

Dozens of mangoes were destroyed (what a pity!).

Give me a dozen ['of those' implied].

Dozen as an Adjective

Four dozen mangoes were not destroyed (thank God!)

I have a few dozen shoes.

Similarly, we never say 'five thousands dollars', as we're using it as an adj.

Additionally, I'd like to point that 'pair' is not an adjective, but a noun.

  • 1
    Best answer because it includes a simple, solid rule. – nanny Oct 20 '15 at 21:11
  • I think i'd prefer "adjectives are not inflected for number" rather than "adjectives are unit-less," because a metre is a unit, and the phrase two-metre plank contains an adjective with a unit. (I know what's meant; I agree with the analysis; I don't think this "unit-less" description is the right way of expressing it.) – Andrew Leach Oct 21 '15 at 7:03
  • I think this answer is putting the cart before the horse. Depending on how you use the word in the sentence, it changes whether you the word is an adjective or a noun. If someone is asking how to use it in the sentence, they aren't going to know whether they are using it as a noun or an adjective. – Shane Oct 21 '15 at 13:47
  • @Shane, the answer is directed towards the question primarily about choosing the words. If my understanding is correct, the burden is on the speaker to make the word a noun or adjective (or verb); which in turn depends on the subject, object and context of the statement. Another way of saying that is, we don't end up with a sentence, we have to design it. – shahzeb kohari Oct 21 '15 at 15:07
  • 1
    @Shane I do agree but not completely. "if it sounds correct" has either "yes" or "no" as an answer. That doesn't help the OP much. Does it? And for that a comment is enough. But yes it's true that the answerer should have included some lines stating which of the sentences the OP quoted sounds correct. (thinking about it, I myself haven't included it directly :P) – Man_From_India Oct 22 '15 at 16:40
3

NOTES FROM OED -

A group or set of twelve. Originally as a noun, followed by of, but often with the ellipsis of of, and thus in singular = twelve.
Also, used colloq. in plural, either indefinitely or hyperbolically, for any moderately large number.

Example sentences -

1. More than three dozen of President Obama's top fundraisers snagged VIP invites.

2. The owner receives 15 cents from the egg company for every one dozen of eggs produced.

3. He's written the music for half a dozen of actor and director Kenneth Branagh's films.

As the notes mentions the of after dozen is often dropped. And hence it's more common to use dozen like an adjective/determiner, with no of between dozen and the noun. You will see people hardly retain of, and some indeed object to the use of of there. Collins Cobuild Dictionary is one of them.
Many dictionaries categories dozen as adjective or determiner.

4. The author or co-author of two dozen books, Connery also taught more than four decades at universities including Stanford and Duke.

So what happens with sentences #1,#2 and #3. Are they incorrect?

No, the use of of there is fine. They are examples of partitive construction - some from a large group of things.

When dozens is used, it doesn't mean twelve, it means a large group of things. There is often an of between dozens and a noun.

5. But, first in Kuwait City, dozens of children and women are burned alive after a fire ripped through a packed wedding tent.

6. We collected dozens and dozens of shells on the beach.

7. The ​refugees ​arrived by the dozen/in ​their dozens.

Usage Note From MW Usage Dictionary -

Dozen has two plurals, a zero form dozen (just like the singular) and an inflected dozens. When a number is put before the noun, the zero form plural is used:

He that kills me some six or seven dozen of Scots - Shakespeare, I Henry IV, 1598

... stript away ten dozen Yards of Fringe —Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub, 1710

... several million dozen pairs —B. Eldred Ellis, Gloves and the Glove Trade, 1921

... consuming... twelve dozen oysters, eight quarts of orange juice — Frank Sullivan, The Night the Old Nostalgia Burned Down, 1953

When the number is not specified, dozens is used:

... worked in dozens of minor roles in television plays — Current Biography, June 1965

Evans 1957 notes that of used to be common after dozen:

I bought you a dozen of shirts — Shakespeare, I Henry IV, 1598

... a dozen or so of people were sitting about — Archibald Marshall, Anthony Dare, 1923

This construction is now felt to be old-fashioned and is no longer used much. We do, of course, retain of after dozens:

Dozens of times since . . . I have been asked . . . — Joseph Wood Krutch, American Scholar, Spring 1955


It's correct to write the following -

He has bought four dozen mangoes.

Four dozen (of) mangoes were delivered from the storehouse.

There are dozens of mangoes scattered on the floor.

  • Might want better examples for 1 & 2. The 'of' there denotes possesion, it has nothing to do with dozen. "I have one pen." vs "It is one of his pens" – Shane Oct 21 '15 at 13:44
  • @Shane I didn't understand you fully. Can you explain a bit more? – Man_From_India Oct 21 '15 at 15:45
  • In your examples 1 & 2 the word of is there to indicate that the thing in question belongs to someone. It has nothing to do with the word dozen. It it denoting that something is part of a whole. "The fundraisers of Obama". "Some of his films." "The sleeve of his coat" I don't know what more to say than that. The examples don't show what you want them to show. – Shane Oct 21 '15 at 15:59
  • @Shane You got it. Exactly that's what I mean by partitive construction. :-) – Man_From_India Oct 21 '15 at 16:08
  • 1
    @Shane Oh now I get your point. Yes I tried to demonstrate. OED doesn't say in which circumstances it has to be of construction and when it will be without of construction. Before I saw MW usage guide I tried to find example sentences with of construction and they are very few in numbers, and all those example sentences the construction is partitive. Colins Cobuild objected to the use of of there. So I came to the conclusion that of is fine only in cases when we have to use partitive construction. But later MW usage guide cleared all sort of confusion stating of construction (cont) – Man_From_India Oct 21 '15 at 16:51

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.